The proposed amendments are in response to the decision of the
Supreme Court of Canada in Alberta (Information and Privacy
Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local
401. In that case, the Supreme Court of Canada
declared PIPA to be unconstitutional and invalid, holding
that it infringed on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by limiting the
ability of the union to video-tape and photograph individuals
crossing the picket line. The Supreme Court of Canada held that
freedom of expression in the context of labour disputes must be
balanced against the government's objective of providing
individuals control over their personal information when crossing a
picket line. The declaration of invalidity for PIPA was
suspended for 12 months, in order to give the legislature time to
consider amendments to make PIPA constitutionally
compliant. On October 30, 2014, this deadline was extended for an
additional six months.
For more background, please see our previous blog posts by David
Elder regarding the leave decision and the
decision of the Supreme Court.
Bill 3 proposes an exception to PIPA's requirement
that consent is obtained for the collection, use, or disclosure of
personal information for trade unions in relation to a labour
dispute. The amendments provide that subject to the
regulations, a trade union may collect, use, or disclose personal
information about an individual without the consent of the
individual for the purpose of informing or persuading the public
about a matter of significant public interest or importance
relating to a labour relations dispute involving the trade union
the collection, use, or disclosure of the personal information
is reasonably necessary for that purpose, and
it is reasonable to collect, use, or disclose the personal
information without consent for that purpose, taking into
consideration all relevant circumstances, including the nature and
sensitivity of the information.
The proposed amendments have been endorsed by Jill Clayton,
Alberta's Information and Privacy Commissioner, as being
consistent with her recommendations. However, she has expressed her
hope that she continues to be consulted on any future regulations
related to these provisions.
The Government of Alberta's proposed amendments simply
reflect the directive of the Supreme Court of Canada to balance the
constitutional right of freedom of expression of trade unions in
labour disputes against the privacy interests of individuals. If
the Bill is passed, and it seems likely that it will, unions and
employers alike will want to take note of the application of these
provisions in future labour disputes and it will be interesting to
see how the balance between freedom of expression for matters of
"significant public interest" to a labour relations
dispute and the use, collection, or disclosure of sensitive
personal information is ultimately struck. Unions remain concerned
that the scope of the legislation is still too narrow but it
appears that the amendments are compliant with the Supreme Court of
We will keep you posted on further developments.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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